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Breaking down the Browns defensive performance against the Ravens

Cleveland gave up four touchdowns to Baltimore on Sunday 


The Browns defense has a standard, one that they pride themselves on upholding on a weekly basis. 

After living up to that standard in the first few weeks of the season, the Browns defense had a few hiccups in their 28-3 loss to the Ravens on Sunday. Over the bye week, they want to correct their mistakes.

"We were out of sorts, and we didn't execute how we should have," DE Myles Garrett said following Sunday's loss. "How we prepared all week is not what we displayed today. And we know we must continue to work on putting it all on the field and together when the time comes."

The Ravens finished Sunday's game with 131 net rushing yards and 165 net receiving yards. QB Lamar Jackson rushed for two touchdowns and threw two touchdowns to TE Mark Andrews. It was the most touchdowns and rushing yards the defense has given up in a game this season.

Even so, their defense is still a top group in the league. The Browns have maintained their position as the top team in completion percentage, holding opposing offenses to a rate of only 53.8 percent. They are also fourth in the league at stopping the run by holding rushers to 3.2 yards per carry.

As the Browns reviewed the tape from Sunday's loss, LB Anthony Walker Jr. noted how, as a defense, they can learn from the mistakes they saw and improve as a unit. So, let's take our own look at two drives that changed the trajectory of Sunday's game. 

In their first two possessions of the game, the Browns defense forced the Ravens offense to go three-and-out and punt the ball. With 6:59 left in the first quarter, rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw his first interception, which was returned for 52 yards. Jackson and the Ravens offense, now in their third possession, took over at the Browns 10-yard line. With only needing 10 yards to score, Jackson ran behind his offensive linemen and scored an easy touchdown.

Check out the best photos from the Browns game against the Ravens by the Browns photo team

In the next two defensive possessions, the Browns were able to force the Ravens to punt and turn over the ball. In the first five possessions, the Ravens had a total of 56 yards and one fumble, with one touchdown after their defense put them in a great field position.

After the Browns forced a fumble in the second quarter, the Browns offense couldn't capitalize. They went six plays for 16 yards. In the previous series, the Browns went three plays and four yards, with both possessions ending in punts. With 8:42 left until halftime, the Ravens had the ball and led 7-3.

Starting at their seven-yard line, the Ravens marched down the field using their run game, completing an 8-play, 93-yard drive for a touchdown. During that drive, the Browns had critical missed tackles. 

After the Ravens offense ran the ball down to put them up 14-3, the Browns offense went three plays for four yards and was forced to punt the ball. The Browns defense was once again on the field quickly. With 2:34 minutes left until halftime, the Ravens started at their 26-yard line and went 10 plays for 74 yards and the touchdown. Jackson's 43-yard pass to rookie WR Zay Flowers put the Ravens in the red zone. Those back-to-back drives for the Ravens turned out to be the difference maker in the game.

"They were massively important," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of the back-to-back 93- and 74-yard touchdown drives. "They were really the game. It gave us an opportunity to get in position to win the game."

Harbaugh was right. Those two drives were crucial because the Ravens had to punt on the next three drives. In those three drives, the Browns forced two three-and-outs and only allowed a total of seven yards. The defense was nearly about to have a shutout in the second half until the Browns offense committed another turnover in the fourth quarter, putting the Ravens offense in excellent field possession again. Starting at the Browns 38-yard line, the Ravens went six plays for 38 yards and a touchdown. 

On paper, it will go down as if the defense gave up a total of four touchdowns and had a bad game, which wasn't the whole story. The Browns defense forced the Ravens to punt seven times and go three-and-out six times. They also forced a fumble and sacked Jackson three times. The defense had two bad drives. They gave up 14 points, excluding two touchdowns resulting from the offense's bad field positions. 

The defense has demonstrated remarkable discipline and has been in sync throughout the season's first three games. With the bye week coming up, the defense will have the opportunity to address the issues they faced against the Ravens and improve upon their performance for Week 6 against the 49ers at Cleveland Browns Stadium. 

"I don't think there's no flinch in our room, no panic in our room," Walker said. "Obviously, guys want to win and that's the hunger, that's the mindset of our team, as always."